Can You Fish Without A License In Tennessee?

Can You Fish Without A License In Tennessee?

Technically, the answer is yes. BUT, it only happens one day a year! In any other circumstance, you MUST have a fishing license in order to fish Tennessee waters. However, there are also a few other exceptions, depending on the individual.

The following people do NOT need a license:

  • You are UNDER 13 years of age
  • You are a landowner, their spouse, or child fishing on your farm land (Must be TN resident)
  • You are a tenant fishing on farm land where you live and are a TN resident
  • You are a grandchild under the age of 16 fishing on your grandparent’s farmland
  • You are on military leave (must carry a copy of your leave orders)
  • You were born before March 1st, 1926 (Must carry proof of age and residency)

Tennessee Free Fishing Day

Tennessee’s state free fishing day is always the Saturday of the first full week in June. That means anybody, regardless of age or residential status, can fish without a license in any of Tennessee’s beautiful state parks. So, if you’re planning a trip from out of state – it’s a good time to go on vacation!

Following free fishing day, children (ages 15 and younger) can also fish for free in all public waters for a week. Normally, only children under 13 are allowed to fish without one.

Tennessee Penalties For Unlicensed Fishing

Make sure you do your research before you start casting. Otherwise you could end up with some hefty fines. Minor infractions are a misdemeanor which will likely run you $10-$35 in fines.

However, not knowing the size or bag limits for fish species could be a lot more expensive. Your fines could total $500 for this.

Some waterways in Tennessee have special restrictions too! This either means that fishing is off limits there, has different restrictions for the fish you may keep, or may even require a special one-day license in ADDITION to your normal fishing license.

Make sure you know what you are or are not allowed to do on a specific waterway, or you could be in hot water with the local fishing authorities. Some of these “special restrictions” might include a limit on how many poles you can use, or may even be set aside for specific groups such as the elderly or disabled.

Why You Should Buy A Fishing License

Like hunting licenses, the fees collected for fishing licensed in the state is one of the best ways to directly support conversation of Tennessee’s diverse, and beautiful wildlife population. 100% of license fees go to conservation efforts!

How Much Are Fishing Licenses In Tennessee?

At the time of writing, there are several options for fishing licenses with varying fees.


  • Annual Hunting & Fishing Combination $34

Minimum license required for fishing and small game. Does NOT include trout fishing. You will need the additional trout fishing permit to go a long with this if you want to keep trout.

  • County Of Residence Fishing License – $11

Only allowed to fish in your county of residence. Natural baits only (but not minnows). No artificial lures are allowed, and a supplemental license is needed for trout fishing.

  • One-Day Fishing License $6.50

A one-day fishing license. Excludes the special permit species like trout.

  • Annual Trout Fishing $22

Supplemental license. Allows you to fish for trout in addition to the regular license.

  • One-Day Fishing All Species $11.50

One day license for all fish species.


  • Jr. Hunt/Fish $11

Non-resident, 13-15 years old. Fishing and small game only.

  • Annual Fishing – NO Trout $50

1 year fishing permit without trout for non residents.

  • 3 Day Fishing NO Trout $20.50

3 day fishing permit, NO trout fishing allowed. Non residents.

  • 3 Day Fishing ALL Species $40.50

3 day fishing permit, ALL species for non-residents.

  • 10 Day Fishing NO Trout $30.50

10 day fishing permit, NO trout fishing allowed for non- residents.

  • 10 Day Fishing ALL species $61.50

10 day fishing permit for non residents, ALL species.

  • Annual Fishing – ALL Species $99

1 year fishing permit for ALL species for non residents.